bar·​ren | \ ˈber-ən How to pronounce barren (audio) , ˈba-rən \

Definition of barren

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : not reproducing: such as
a : incapable of producing offspring used especially of females or matingsbarren women
b : not yet or not recently pregnant
c of plants : habitually failing to fruit barren apple trees
2 : not productive: such as
a : producing little or no vegetation : desolate barren deserts
b : producing inferior crops barren soil
c : unproductive of results or gain : fruitless a barren scheme
3 : devoid, lacking used with ofbarren of excitement
4 : lacking interest or charm a barren routine
5 : lacking inspiration or ideas a barren mind



Definition of barren (Entry 2 of 2)

1 barrens plural, geography : an extent of usually level land having an inferior growth of trees or little vegetation
2 : a tract of barren land

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Other Words from barren


barrenly adverb
barrenness \ ˈber-​ə(n)-​nəs How to pronounce barrenness (audio) , ˈba-​rə(n)-​ \ noun

Choose the Right Synonym for barren


bare, naked, nude, bald, barren mean deprived of naturally or conventionally appropriate covering. bare implies the removal of what is additional, superfluous, ornamental, or dispensable. an apartment with bare walls naked suggests absence of protective or ornamental covering but may imply a state of nature, of destitution, or of defenselessness. poor half-naked children nude applies especially to the unclothed human figure. a nude model posing for art students bald implies actual or seeming absence of natural covering and may suggest a conspicuous bareness. a bald mountain peak barren often suggests aridity or impoverishment or sterility. barren plains

Examples of barren in a Sentence

Adjective Few creatures can thrive on these barren mountaintops. The book was good, but I found the barren lives of the characters depressing. Noun lived out in the barrens where it was impossible to grow anything
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Some grocery stores are now imposing limits on meat purchases to prevent barren refrigerator displays. Nathaniel Meyersohn And Danielle Wiener-bronner, CNN, "Kroger is limiting ground beef and pork purchases in some stores," 1 May 2020 Finally, a sporting event for fans to get excited about amid the barren sports television landscape that has been wiped out due to concerns over the coronavirus pandemic. oregonlive, "UFC 249 scheduled for May 9: Fight card, TV schedule, start time, PPV cost, how to watch live on ESPN Plus," 29 Apr. 2020 Looking around at the barren floodplain during a visit in early March, Jennifer Pitt picked up a clamshell from the sandy, salt-crusted soil and held it in her hand. Ian James,, "How a trickle of water is breathing life into the parched Colorado River Delta," 19 Apr. 2020 In Rome, Pope Francis celebrated a surreal Easter mass in a barren St. Peter's Basilica. Sarah Brookbank,, "Coronavirus in Ohio, Kentucky: Churches, stimulus checks, US cases," 13 Apr. 2020 Cathy Sloss Jones looked out over this barren landscape and saw the potential for something wonderful to grow there. Cary Estes, al, "How Pepper Place grew a nationally acclaimed farmers market," 13 Apr. 2020 On a barren patch of land shaded by a single Southern live oak tree sits a cinder block building that serves as the Democratic headquarters of the smallest, poorest and most African American county in South Carolina. Bill Ruthhart,, "Pete Buttigieg is polling at 0% with black voters in South Carolina. Here’s how he’s rebooting his 2020 approach to win them over.," 5 Dec. 2019 But those barren patches in the stands have shrunk this year, and Downs said demand for single-game tickets surged after the Ravens beat the Seattle Seahawks and New England Patriots. Childs Walker,, "Lamarmania: The Ravens and quarterback Lamar Jackson are generating fan excitement from Baltimore to Brazil," 15 Nov. 2019 Diego Simeone's men are on a barren goalscoring run, with just two goals in their last five games – both of those goals coming in the same match., "Atletico Madrid vs Valencia Preview: Where to Watch, Live Stream, Kick Off Time & Team News," 17 Oct. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun But when the predators that keep their numbers in check disappear, the population booms and can quickly consume a kelp forest, creating what is called an urchin barren. Maurice Roper, National Geographic, "THE BEST OF NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC DELIVERED TO YOUR INBOX," 30 Apr. 2020 But True History of the Kelly Gang is undoubtedly Kurzel’s most ambitious undertaking yet, from a visual standpoint as well as a narrative one. Haunting aerial shots present the film’s setting as a barren, almost alien landscape. Isaac Feldberg, Fortune, "‘True History of the Kelly Gang’ director, stars on their hypnotic outlaw saga," 23 Apr. 2020 After an appropriately post-apocalyptic dystopian opening perfectly fitting for our new reality, the new cast treks their way through a barren, freezing forest to their first challenge that’s happening immediately. Sydney Bucksbaum,, "The Challenge: Total Madness premiere recap: An unholy alliance more than a decade in the making," 2 Apr. 2020 Sandy stretches of beach lay barren, even on sunny days. Los Angeles Times, "As coronavirus spreads, Los Angeles County scores an A in social distancing; other counties lag," 31 Mar. 2020 The vast forecourt is barricaded, barren of its Christmas tree., "PARIS — The rector of Notre Dame Cathedral says the Paris landmark is still so fragile that there’s a “50 percent chance” the structure might not be saved, because scaffolding installed before this year’s fire is threatening the vaults of the Gothic monument.," 26 Dec. 2019 But as people gear up for long-haul self-isolation to stop the spread of Covid-19, some have noticed the freezer section of the store has been left barren. Chase Purdy, Quartz, "Fresh produce will abandon you in quarantine. Here’s how to keep it and waste less," 20 Mar. 2020 The aisles were crowded, with customers forging their own paths in search of necessities — only to find shelves that once had toilet paper, sanitation wipes, rice, beans and soup barren — or nearly so. Sara Cline,, "San Antonio residents race to the store to stock up after coronavirus declaration," 13 Mar. 2020 The vast forecourt is barricaded, barren of its Christmas tree., "PARIS — The rector of Notre Dame Cathedral says the Paris landmark is still so fragile that there’s a “50 percent chance” the structure might not be saved, because scaffolding installed before this year’s fire is threatening the vaults of the Gothic monument.," 26 Dec. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'barren.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of barren


13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1651, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for barren


Middle English bareine, from Anglo-French barain, perhaps of Celtic origin; akin to Middle Welsh brynar fallow land


noun derivative of barren entry 1

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Time Traveler for barren

Time Traveler

The first known use of barren was in the 13th century

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Statistics for barren

Last Updated

13 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Barren.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 May. 2020.

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More Definitions for barren


How to pronounce barren (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of barren

: having very few plants : not suitable for plants
: not producing fruit or not able to produce fruit
old-fashioned, of a woman or female animal : not able to produce children or offspring


bar·​ren | \ ˈber-ən How to pronounce barren (audio) \

Kids Definition of barren

1 : unable to produce seed, fruit, or young barren plants
2 : growing only poor or few plants barren soil


bar·​ren | \ ˈbar-ən How to pronounce barren (audio) \

Medical Definition of barren

: incapable of producing offspring used especially of females or matings

Other Words from barren

barrenness \ -​ən-​nəs How to pronounce barrenness (audio) \ noun

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More from Merriam-Webster on barren

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for barren

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with barren

Spanish Central: Translation of barren

Nglish: Translation of barren for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of barren for Arabic Speakers

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